Desert Rivers Audubon Society Calendar

News from the Early Birds

The Earlybirds enjoyed their monthly meeting at Gilbert Riparian on Sat Nov 21st. We learned the difference between 'dabbling' and 'diving' ducks and were lucky enough to see a 10 minute(?) aerial display close up of an osprey fishing and a not so close up ongoing view of a belted kingfisher, also fishing.

By carefully observing the ducks, we determined which were dabblers, (just dipped their heads below water to forage for food), and which ducks were divers. These ducks would dive completely underwater hunting down their favorite food.

Early Birds
Early Birds

Sometimes it takes a bit of sitting and watching to be able to tell which duck is a diver and which is a dabbler. Before you go out searching for ducks, spend some time at home by browsing through a field guide, you'll be surprised how much it can help later on when you're looking at them on the pond.

You can also try your hand at some homework if you like:

  1. Choose a bird you know and then look the bird up in as many field guides as you can. Libraries usually have a range you can look up.
  2. Compare the descriptions and pictures of the bird. Which do you like best, photos or paintings?
  3. Which field guides show the best range of pictures, males and females, adults and juveniles?
  4. Which description is the fullest and which gave you the most information in the shortest text?
  5. Which gave you the easiest way to learn the bird song?

Don’t forget - it’s always best to read the field guide before you go birding - if you see a new bird spend time looking at it and record what you see in a notebook before you open your field guide. The field guide will be there for a long time but the bird may fly away in a few seconds.

Early Birds - Kid's Club

Are you a budding bird watcher? Do you notice the birds in your back yard and wish you could name them? Do you hear birds singing and wonder who is making that sound? Do you enjoy being outside and finding things that other people don't even notice? Then the Early Birds Club is definitely for you.

The club meets once a month from October to April at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve (next to the library on Guadalupe and Greenfield) usually on the third Saturday of the month. As our name implies we start before the bird walks begin, as soon as the sun comes up and we can see the birds.

Each month we try to concentrate on a different aspect of birding skills that children can use in the future. Each member is given a notebook and we explore ways of using them. All levels of expertise are welcome, we hope to help each other. Parents must either come themselves or appoint another adult to come with the children. So far all the parents have really enjoyed learning about birds alongside their children.

Each month a small home project can be undertaken to keep the focus going at home. There is no cost for this and if you need to borrow binoculars for the walks we will arrange this.

If you need more information or would like your child to take part, please contact Anne Koch at


The Bird on Our Badge

The bird on our badge is an expert fisherman. He wades through the water on his long, long legs spearing fish and other small animals with his long sharp beak. He's a big bird as well, if he stretches out his neck he can be nearly four foot long and when he spreads his wings he's about six foot from wing tip to wing tip. You can't miss him as he flies above you beating those wings in a slow steady beat.

Great Blue HeronHe's called the Great Blue Heron but most people would call him a grey bird. You have to look carefully to see the bluish tinge to his wonderful feathers.

So why is a water bird the logo for a bird group in the Valley of the Sun? Well our rivers and creeks have always been important, they have always made life possible in a very dry hot place. Wherever there are rivers and creeks you will find the herons making a very good living. The herons are very adaptable birds though; they've learnt a few new tricks. I often see herons on roof tops near golf courses, waiting to investigate the ponds there. You will find them at water treatment areas and near those shopping centers with the artificial landscaped lakes. So they teach us a lesson, water is very precious wherever it comes from, don't waste a drop.